NAME: TomboyBill (a.k.a Dionne Chambers)

LOCATION: I live in Banyule and work in Darebin

IN A SENTENCE EXPLAIN YOUR CRAFT: I am a fine artist/painter, who in a former life was an illustrator/graphic designer.

WHAT’S YOUR PROUDEST PIECE OF ART: I would have to say –  ‘It’s 2am Get Out Of My Head’ – from my last exhibition – ‘offcut’. It was the largest piece I’ve ever created and was painted on, and constructed with, plywood offcuts.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 18.41.34

WHERE DOES MY CREATIVITY COME FROM: I’ve always had that inner urge to draw and paint. Creating artwork which is a pure expression of my ideas, thoughts and feelings is so different to the jobs I had a lifetime ago, where for 20 years I was strongly art directed and often told things like: the client wants a colour change / it all needs to move to the left, yadda, yadda. I now feel like I can really spread my wings and create artwork that has a bit of grit and grunt to it.

I recently made a big shift toward the abstract, with the exploration of shape and texture, and have started experimenting with organic and inorganic materials. I’ve been completely immersing myself in the process, including the act of setting on fire a plywood canvas, which has been a lot of fun.

It’s funny but I have always felt the urge to make people giggle, in regards to my artwork. There has usually been a kind of self-deprecating humour present across all of my work, but now I am finding that the further I delve into my practice – the more self-analysis and reflection I am doing – the more serious I am becoming about it all, which might explain the shift toward abstraction.

TomboyBill_Jolt_acrylic, glue on plywood

IS THERE A PARTICULAR ODE/MAXIM/PRINCIPLE THAT YOU REFERENCE WHEN CREATING: At the moment I have a burning desire to explore new processes in an attempt to discover new grounds. Combing over old ground doesn’t really interest me, nor does it help keep that fire lit inside. When I look back at previous work, I always feel like I want to push the boundaries further next time. I am driven by the inner urge and compulsion to barrel forward in an almost child-like, reckless manner, in an attempt to bring about unexpected results, and along with that comes something fresh and new.

WHAT BOOK HAS INFLUENCED YOU THE MOST: I am not a huge reader these days. I wish I was but would rather spend my time working with visuals, however, as far as childhood books go, I would have to say Dr Suess. The illustrations were just as exciting and wacky as the wording. On my bucket list is to write and illustrate a kids book one day.

IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANY ARTIST WHO WOULD IT BE: As a fantasy collaboration, I would have to say Jean-Michel Basquiat, but hey, who am I kidding!

TomboyBill_Bled_acrylic, paper, glue on plywood

DO YOU HAVE ANY STRANGE PRACTICES TO HELP YOU CREATE: Nothing strange, I just need to have the music cranked to keep me focused on the artwork so I can really lose myself in the creative process, rather than getting caught up in thoughts of food shopping and domestic duties.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT THE INDUSTRY: I’ve been fortunate to have met some really lovely and helpful people in the industry. I just keep knocking on doors and to my surprise, people keep opening them, so my experience has been nothing but positive.

DOES DAREBIN HELP YOU BE MORE ARTISTIC: I’ve always loved the working class grit of the northern suburbs, although I guess it’s not so working class these days. I’ve only ever lived in the north after leaving home and moving from my small country town in rural Victoria, at age 17. The northern suburbs is a great melting pot of artists, immigrants and food/cafe culture. The culmination of all of these things inspire me.

WHAT ARE YOU STRIVING FOR THE MOST FROM YOUR ART: I get a kick out of people liking my work, but people usually have quite a strong opinion about it, and will often tell me they either love it, or they ‘don’t get it’ (translation – hate it). Making a comfortable living from selling my artwork is also becoming increasingly important as I left my steady income/graphic design job approx. 8 years ago now so it’s been a real eye-opener with regards to how expensive it is to work as a fine artist. I had absolutely no idea. I would also be lying if I said that being hugely successful doesn’t interest me. Isn’t that what most human beings strive for, regardless of industry?


FAVOURITE NEW SITE: Nothing has grabbed my attention lately, other than Paint My Pooch which offers custom pet portraits on fine art paper, solid but not exactly my style. 

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR LATEST PROJECT: I am working on two upcoming solo exhibitions simultaneously.
The first – ‘Intermingling’ – will be held at West End Art Space (July 7 – 28)
The second – ‘Darkest Before Dawn’ –  will be held at No Vacancy/QV (August 27 – Sept 9)

WAS THERE A PARTICULAR INSPIRATION BEHIND IT: ‘Intermingling’ is a shift toward the abstract, focusing on shape and texture, and ‘Darkest Before Dawn’ explores the human condition in the wee hours of the night – Insomnia, tinnitus (chronic ringing ears), reflections and regrets of the past and fears and anxieties for the future, are the main focus for this body of work.

You can see my work at either of my upcoming exhibitions, or you can check out the website:
or follow on Instagram: tomboybill_artist

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